3 Key Takeaways from the Technology Survey…and One Easy Fix!

The 2016 Tech Report was released by Physicians Practice last month and includes the tabulated responses of more than 1,500 physicians and practice managers from across the country. Physicians Practice, an award-winning online and print resource for providers and their staff, conducts an annual technology survey and has released it to the public for the first time ever this year.

According to respondents,

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How does your healthcare organization compare on these points? If your organization has similar headaches, DataFile can help! DataFile can help you optimize the use of your EHR and can likely help you see more patients each day. DataFile provides turnkey solutions to streamline, standardize and centralize health information management and clinical workflows for healthcare organizations of all types and sizes.

Many DataFile clients report that the use of our eFile services and our 24-hour turnaround time for Release of Information services has afforded them the opportunity to work on higher priority projects and see more patients.

And what if you could realize this benefit WITHOUT adding new technology? DataFile doesn’t require any integration, interface or on-site resource consumption. Want to learn more? Click here to send a quick email to ask a question or request a demo.

Is Your EHR Fully Optimized?

A recent study published in the American Action Forum says probably not… (insert anxiety-filled gasp for air!)

You know firsthand about the high costs of purchasing an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system.  And the implementation and utilization of EHRs bring their own weighty costs and challenges.   And with as many as 60% of EHR purchasers last year REPLACING current EHR systems, healthcare organizations are once again spending more time and more money learning and deploying new systems and adjusting their workflows.

You’ve already spent a lot of money!  Now, ensuring optimization of your EHR is a critical component to improving the financial performance of your organization. Did you know that DataFile can help your organization save time, save money and eliminate headaches by optimizing your EHR?

Our clients utilizing DataFile for our eFile services report that the use of those services and our 24-hour turnaround time for Release of Information services has helped them to both optimize their EHR and optimize their staff.  DataFile has afforded them the opportunity to work on higher priority projects and see more patients.  DataFile is an expert superuser of all types of EHR systems.  We are fast, accurate and – most importantly – we are not prone to the countless interruptions that your staff must navigate every day.

Do the math!  If you to take an additional 60 seconds more per patient visit to complete the associated/required workflow tasks within the EHR than what our superuser DataFile staff takes to complete the same tasks, that equates to about 30 minutes per day.  Could you put that same 30 minutes per day to better use by seeing patients instead?  If you’re getting $75 per visit, then its $150 per day…and suddenly that 60 seconds per visit is costing your practice as much as $30,000 per year!

Are you using our eFile Services to fully optimize your EHR?

Are your clinicians able to access complete records at critical moments? Are your staff able to focus on patient care rather than administrative burdens that come along with EHR conversion and/or utilization?

If you can’t confidently answer YES to those few questions (or, you’re just not sure), it may be time to run a diagnostic test with one of our solutions specialists or email solutions@datafiletechnologies.com.  They’ll ask more in-depth questions and provide you with a better understanding of your level of EHR optimization—and what savings may be possible with the addition of our eFile services to your DataFile portfolio.

Bundling Services for a Complete Medical Records Management Experience

Transitioning to an electronic medical records system has multiple purposes: at its best, it streamlines a practice’s internal processes, reducing human error and allowing doctors and staff to focus more intently on the needs of their patients. But unfortunately, EMR implementation and maintenance also has the potential to be confusing and time-consuming – not to mention it creates a greater risk for HIPAA violations if the network isn’t completely secure.

While the EMR platform ideally allows practices to have easier access to vital health information at the exact time it is needed, that can only happen when the EMR is properly maintained. High turnover in medical records processing positions, as well as vacations and absences among current practice employees, can throw a serious monkey wrench into daily operations. Furthermore, some practices that spread their records management duties across many employees can find their EMR in a bit of disarray due to inconsistent filing standards.

Many practices also struggle with finding time to field calls from entities requesting medical records (law offices, insurance companies, other practices, individuals, etc.) along with their standard daily tasks. Because of the delicate nature of protected health information, the release of information process is surrounded by red tape – and has the potential to result in some serious consequences if chart data is transmitted incorrectly.

With technology at its peak, there are many opportunities for practices to battle these obstacles head-on. Companies like DataFile exist to make practices’ lives easier while improving the quality of healthcare as a whole. Our electronic release of information service takes the hassle of fulfilling medical records requests off your task list using your existing EMR technology. Once a records request is put in your EMR, our highly trained records processors take over, with a guaranteed 24-hour turnaround. By creating a HIPAA-secure connection to your EMR, DataFile is able to safely and efficiently handle all of your ROI requests. Here’s the icing on the cake: in most cases, there is no cost to your practice for this service, as DataFile bills third-party requestors directly based on state guidelines.

Technology has also allowed practices to unload the burden of filing incoming patient data in the EMR with our eFiling service. Using a HIPAA secure network connection, we access all incoming information your practice receives throughout the day. Our trained specialists dissect the information and appropriate it within the EMR following your protocols allowing clinical staff to focus on more patient oriented activities. What’s more, this service is completely customizable to fit the specific needs of your practice.

While both of these services are helpful a la carte, practices who bundle and use both services find they benefit from being able to essentially outsource their entire medical records management department. By bundling, the practice receives a one-two punch of streamlining workflows because it no longer handles incoming OR outgoing records. It only has to scan paper when needed. Plus, DataFile offers discounts for bundling eROI and eFiling services, keeping more dollars in your pocket.

Whether you already use one of our services or you’re still debating the idea, we can take more of the work off your shoulders than ever before. Bundling your eROI and eFiling services with us will save your practice endless hours of tedious records processing. Working with us is equivalent to leveraging an entire staff of highly educated medical records processing personnel, at a cost that is less than hiring a part-time employee to do it in-house, all while guarding your practice from HIPAA security breaches. What’s stopping you? Call us today for a free consultation! Contact solutions@datafiletechnologies.com for a demonstration customized to your needs today.

Client Spotlight – See how a real East Texas practice is using technology and outsourcing to save money

East Texas Family Medicine

The funny, genuinely kind group of people that comprise East Texas Family Medicine in the “other” Palestine pride themselves on offering state-of-the-art technology with extraordinary patient care. East Texas is a four-physician practice that focuses on comprehensive family medicine. Founded in 1991, ETFM was the medical community trailblazer in their eastern Texas town, focusing primarily on pediatrics and delivering babies. While they don’t deliver babies anymore, the core values of the practice have remained the same as they garner respect from area residents and patients who stay faithful for years.

Danny Allison, practice administrator at ETFM, is always looking for ways to utilize technology that cost-effectively helps the practice run more smoothly while providing exemplary patient care. Allison says the practice migrated to an electronic medical records system in 2002, “way before it was cool” to do so. East Texas is so dedicated to effectively using technology in their practice that they were awarded second place for Microsoft’s MSHUG (Microsoft Health Users Group) Award in 2006. The MSHUG award recognizes practices that use technology to “enhance and transform the quality of patient care.”

The technology-savvy practice is excited to utilize everything the industry has to offer in order to provide better care for patients. “I love to live on the edge,” says Allison. “And [the doctors] aren’t afraid to walk out there with me…I think that’s one of the things that makes us very successful: the doctors are not afraid of trying new things.”

A year and a half ago, that draw toward being technologically connected, as well as the desire to counter the vast amount of time employees were spending on medical records, led East Texas to DataFile Technologies. Originally, they partnered with us for release of information request fulfillment and, more recently, the practice also signed up for our eFiling service.

ETFM loves being able to tell records requestors that they can call DataFile directly for record request status updates, saving the practice time and money. “We’ve had people call in asking for their records, and all we have to do is simply say, ‘Here’s the phone number you need to call, thank you!’ Instead of, ‘Sorry, the dog ate that,’” Allison jokes.

Learn more about the folks at East Texas Family Medicine, P.A. on their website. Wanna nominate your practice or another of our outstanding clients for a future spotlight? Drop us a line now!

How eFiling Could Change Your Practice

Ever thought about how much time your staff spends filing incoming patient information every day? Ever wish that time could be better spent elsewhere – say, on patients? When our clients feel overwhelmed by the daunting task of staying up-to-date on patient information documents entering their EMR, we love being able to tell them that there IS an affordable solution.

DataFile’s eFiling service is a completely remote document routing, indexing and filing service that gets your records updated faster than using your in house staff. eFiling has many benefits for your practice, including:

•    Saving you time and money on training new employees
•    Increasing efficiency and mitigating records-related risk by utilizing the expertise of trained professionals
•    Improving the patient experience as your practice’s work capacity is focused back on meeting the patient’s needs
•    And focusing on your practice’s individual needs, as eFiling is 100% customizable.

 

This 2 ½ minute intro video explains the eFiling service.

 

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When you decide to outsource your incoming medical records filing workflow to DataFile, all information is transmitted through a HIPAA-secure network connection to our team of professionals, who redistribute the information into the EMR following your established protocols and practice-specific policies. DataFile will mirror your current policies and routing to ensure that records are constantly updated and reviewed. Most importantly, when a patient comes in for their appointment, the physician can rest assured knowing all the information will be ready in the patient’s file.

Exploring eFiling with DataFile

As anyone working in a medical profession will attest, the patient is the top priority. But there are so many other things medical practice professionals must take care of, it can be overwhelming to put patients first and still get it all done in a normal work week.

For example, simply keeping up with filing incoming patient information into your EMR to keep patient records up-to-date can occupy countless hours of staff time every week for many healthcare practices. Yet what the majority of practices don’t know is they could be on their way to a more productive tomorrow with innovative new ways to leverage remote medical records services, like eFiling, for these time-consuming tasks.

eFiling is a completely remote medical records management service that provides numerous benefits for your practice, including:

  • Saving time and money on training new employees
  • Increasing efficiency and mitigating records-related risk by utilizing the expertise of trained professionals
  • Improving the patient experience as your practice’s work capacity is focused back on meeting the patient’s needs
  • Tailoring to your practice’s individual needs, as eFiling is 100% customizable

[flowplayer src=’http://www.datafiletechnologies.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/EROI.mp4′ width=530 height=298 splash=’http://www.datafiletechnologies.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/eroi-splash.jpg’]

When outsourcing your incoming medical records filing workflow to DataFile, all information is transmitted through a HIPAA secure network connection to our team of professionals, who redistribute the information into the EMR as needed. Most importantly, when a patient comes in for their appointment, the physician can rest assured knowing all  their information will be ready in the patient’s file.

Ready to learn more? Check out our informational video above, and contact one of our eFiling experts today at 816-437-9134 to speak with a member of our team.

eFiling with DataFile…No, We Don’t Mean Your Taxes!

While it may be “that time of year” for e-filing your tax return, filing patient information at your practice is a year-round endeavor. As medical records experts, we chat with many of our clients on a regular basis about their medical records workflows, processes and challenges. One challenge many of our customers have is streamlining the process of filing incoming patient information using their EMR. Another dilemma is practices love the idea that they could use their EMR for remote records services like release of information, but wish there is a way to cover more duties of their medical records department with remote services.

EfilingIt was from these observations that DataFile’s eFiling service was born. If you aren’t familiar with this service, we hope some of the FAQ’s below will help you learn more. We also encourage our clients to contact a DataFile eFiling service representative today to get more details on how this service works with your specific EMR, and how to get started.

What is eFiling?
eFiling is a 100% remote medical records management service designed to increase efficiency and effectiveness at your practice while helping you lower current overhead expenses.

How does eFiling work?
Using a HIPAA secure network connection, DataFile will access all incoming information the practice receives throughout the day. Our trained technicians dissect the information and appropriate it within your EMR as needed, so you can focus on more patient oriented activities. What’s more, we file continuously throughout the day, customize the service to fit the specific needs of your practice, and charge one low flat rate per file (no matter the size).

Is eFiling more beneficial for larger or smaller practices?
eFiling can be beneficial for both large and small practices! Many smaller practices choose DataFile because they are currently using nurses or practice administrators to input files into the EMR, and we can free up their time to focus on more important things, like patients. Large practices often choose to outsource their entire medical records department to DataFile, getting rid of wasted time managing and recruiting records staff and saving on overhead costs, while increasing effectiveness of their EMR.

Regardless of your practice size, perhaps the greatest benefit of using the eFiling service is the way physicians can provide improved care for their patients. Since we file throughout the day, physicians can have confidence that their patients’ charts will be ready and updated with the information they need by the time they need it. This can make a world of difference for improving patient satisfaction at the time of their appointment.

Is this service really going to be cheaper than having a clerk do this in-house?
The pricing of this service was designed to cut the total overhead cost a practice pays to manage this activity in-house.  There are many things that factor in to this such as direct costs (salary, paper, ink, toner, office space, etc), as well as the indirect cost of having to manage this process yourself and the HIPAA liability it brings with it.

So, by outsourcing eFiling and/or eROI, we will not need a medical records staff?
Your practice is still going to receive documents in “hard copy” format and would therefore still need someone to feed paper into the scanner.  As long as the documents can be accessed electronically, then yes, we can essentially function as your medical records department.

If we decide that we would like to use your service, what are the upfront costs to get started, and what kind of contract or agreement are we required to sign?
We handle the IT setup for all of our remote solutions so the client is not responsible for this cost.
We have a policy here at DataFile Technologies not to handcuff our clients to us in any way.  We believe that if our client deems our service is no longer of benefit, they should be free to part ways.  We do, however, have terms and conditions we ask the client to sign to show us that they are serious about moving forward.

How long does it take to get setup once we decide to work with DataFile?
This answer is dependent on the cooperation of the practice and your IT staff. Barring any unique issues, the setup process shouldn’t take more than a week.

Do I have to use your eFiling service in order to get ROI free?
No.  In almost all cases our Release of Information service is at no cost to the practice.  This is possible because we bill the third party requestors (attorneys, insurance companies, etc).

Are we able to have DataFile name documents the way we currently label them?
Yes, when we lay out the Service Level Agreement we will specify what you would like us to do with the documents and how the documents should be named. This can be changed at any time.

If we want to change a certain way a document is handled, will we be able to update that?
Yes, the Service Level Agreement is ongoing living document to which we will continue adding new document instructions.  Any changes to the Service Level Agreement will need to be signed off by the practice administrator before they take effect.  Once in place, we will honor whatever changes were approved.

What if we don’t currently use our electronic fax server?
You are still able to utilize our service if you don’t currently use an electronic fax server.  This does, however, require that the paper documents be fed into the scanner in order for us to access them.

How to Use Your EMR to Downsize the Medical Records Department

Is Your Medical Records Department Too Big?

Ask yourself this question, and then honestly answer it using our poll below: “On a typical day, how much time do you spend updating your EMR with incoming information?”

If you answered anything more than 2 hours a day, chances are your practice is throwing money down the drain due to extra “dead weight” in your medical records department.

It may sound obvious, but for practices with live EMR systems, there is no need to have a huge staff in your medical records department. In fact, many medical practices have a medical records department that is as much as twice as large as they need! You may be reading that and thinking, “Yeah right…it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day as is. How could we really get everything done…and do it with fewer people?” The answer lies in leveraging remote records services in tandem with your EMR.

As a practice administrator, you have been charged with the unenviable task of figuring out how to make your practice more effective, all while decreasing overhead and administrative FTE per physician. That’s a tall order! However, it may be a bit less overwhelming than it appears.

Let’s dissect that “twice as much staff” statistic mentioned earlier. A typical medical records department usually requires a staff member (or two) for filing incoming patient information in the EMR, as well as a staff member (or two) for keeping up with outgoing records tasks such as fulfilling release of information requests. However, the technology of EMR platforms allows these duties to be done by remote records services using a secure connection to your EMR, meaning you no longer need staff members focused on these tasks because you can offload them to a third party. Essentially, you could outsource your entire medical records department if you wanted to! And you could use your freed up staff in other areas of the practice that need attention.

Consider that EMR technology opens the door for decreasing overhead expenses and required staff levels by enabling trusted remote records services to take on some of your records tasks burdens. Not only that, but often these services help you increase efficiency and patient satisfaction within your practice because tasks get done at a faster pace than if you were to do them yourself.

So what are you waiting for? Start a conversation with one of the experts at DataFile about the ways you could improve your medical records department using our variety of remote records services.

Free Up Medical Records Resources with eFiling Services

As medical records experts, we chat with a lot of medical practices and clinics about their medical records workflows and processes, and ways of overcoming the challenges they face with these tasks on a daily basis. In these conversations, we discover that although many practices with EMR systems are thrilled with the thought of leveraging remote records services for tasks like release of information, they are hesitant to “make the jump”, because it only covers one duty of their medical records department. Some feel they need a more comprehensive solution that will cover both outgoing and incoming patient information to get the most value out of using remote records services.

It is from this real customer input that DataFile’s eFiling services were born (and no, we’re not talking about eFiling your taxes!). eFiling is a 100% remote medical records management service designed to increase efficiency and effectiveness at your practice while helping you lower current overhead expenses. Using a HIPAA secure network connection, DataFile will access all incoming information the practice receives throughout the day. Our trained technicians dissect the information and appropriate it within your EMR as needed, so you can focus on more patient oriented activities. What’s more, we file continuously throughout the day, customize the service to fit the specific needs of your practice, and charge one low flat rate per file (no matter the size).

We built this eFiling records solution with practices of all shapes and sizes in mind.

  • If you’re a large practice: When used in conjunction with electronic release of information (eROI) services, it provides a comprehensive solution that enables practices to essentially outsource their entire medical records department once they go electronic on an EMR.
  • If you’re a smaller practice: eFiling allows practices to reallocate time and resources spent by the office manager, receptionist or other staff member that deals with incoming patient information in the EMR. This means you can focus on more patient-focused activities and other areas of the practice that need your attention.

Regardless of your practice size, perhaps the greatest benefit of using the eFiling service is the way physicians can provide improved care for their patients. Since we file throughout the day, physician’s can have confidence that their patients’ charts will be ready and updated with the information they need by the time they need it. This can make a world of difference for improving patient satisfaction at the time of their appointment – what better result could you ask for?


Contact an eFiling representative today
to learn more about how this service works with your EMR, and ask us how to get started today.

Analog or eFaxing and HIPAA

faxing-photoWe are often asked at DataFile about faxing medical records.  With the changes to HIPAA Security and Privacy Rules from the HITECH Act and the many permutations and combinations of the current state of medical records…EMR, paper, scanned images…etc,  it’s fitting to break this discussion down a little.

The below references from the HHS.gov FAQ provide enough added information to just continue to raise more questions. Is faxed information regulated differently under HIPAA?  What is considered “reasonable effort” under HIPAA? What happens if the faxed information accidentally goes to the wrong recipient or a breach occurs? So to help shed some light on this topic, the HIPAA medical records experts at DataFile have added some of our comments on the subject of faxing medical records.

Straight from the HIPAA FAQ section of HHS.gov

  • Does the Security Rule apply to written and oral communications?
  • Answer: No. The standards and specifications of the Security Rule are specific to electronic protected health information (e-PHI). It should be noted however that e-PHI also includes telephone voice response and fax back systems because they can be used as input and output devices for electronic information systems. E-PHI does not include paper-to-paper faxes or video teleconferencing or messages left on voice mail, because the information being exchanged did not exist in electronic form before the transmission. In contrast, the requirements of the Privacy Rule apply to all forms of PHI, including written and oral.
  • Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule permit a doctor, laboratory, or other health care provider to share patient health information for treatment purposes by fax, e-mail, or over the phone?
  • Answer: Yes. The Privacy Rule allows covered health care providers to share protected health information for treatment purposes without patient authorization, as long as they use reasonable safeguards when doing so. These treatment communications may occur orally or in writing, by phone, fax, e-mail, or otherwise.
  • The Privacy Rule requires that covered health care providers apply reasonable safeguards when making these communications to protect the information from inappropriate use or disclosure. These safeguards may vary depending on the mode of communication used. For example, when faxing protected health information to a telephone number that is not regularly used, a reasonable safeguard may involve a provider first confirming the fax number with the intended recipient. Similarly, a covered entity may pre-program frequently used numbers directly into the fax machine to avoid misdirecting the information. When discussing patient health information orally with another provider in proximity of others, a doctor may be able to reasonably safeguard the information by lowering his or her voice.

6 Things the Experts at DataFile Want You to Keep in Mind

1. Most of HIPAA Security references how information is STORED not necessarily how it’s DELIVERED.

As an example…if you have a FAX utility that uses a digital VOIP line or an old school AT&T analog fax line, is that mode of distribution regulated differently under HIPAA?  No, because it depends on how the information you want to FAX is Stored.

2. You must apply the Safeguard Principles, even when faxing information.

If you print out a record from your EMR and FAX it from its paper form, is it ePHI at this point or PHI? Either way…..It doesn’t matter, you still have to apply the Safeguard Principle’s notated below.

HIPAA Privacy Rule states in the “Safeguards Principle”: Individually identifiable health information should be protected with reasonable administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure its confidentiality, integrity, and availability and to prevent unauthorized or inappropriate access, use or disclosure.

3. Use REASONABLE effort when faxing to a number that is not regularly used.

Reference the second HHS.gov FAQ above (“….when faxing protected health information to a telephone number that is not regularly used…..”). We’ve heard many HIPAA Overkill stories of offices that fax a “prefax” to every single fax number that is not programmed into their fax machine.  The prefax page asks the recipient to fax back that it was received and that they are indeed anticipating receiving PHI.  The prefax may also have the info to call to verify and it’s also peppered with HIPAA confidentiality protocol.  If you are an 80 provider medical practice (or 5 providers for that matter) you are inundated with requests for information to go to places that are “not regularly used”.  If you tracked this all day long in a medical practice, it would never end!  We think this is totally unreasonable and HIPAA clearly states “reasonable effort”.

4. Nowhere in HIPAA does it state that you have to control or safeguard the actions of others or situations that are not within your control.

When faxing, the reasonable effort you can deploy is to define the HR characteristics of a high quality, high integrity person that you allow to use the fax machine.

  • Ensure the number’s you’ve been given are legible.
  • Double check the numbers you enter before you hit send.

5. Protecting PHI is important!

Implementing best practice HIPAA protocols matters!  However, we are still human beings running these fancy computers, with fancy software.  It is impossible to expect even the most dedicated detail oriented person to not make a mistake.  If PHI is disclosed to an unauthorized recipient via a fax number error, then simply follow the Notification of Breach protocols and document the incident properly and notified the patient if necessary.  I assure you, it is NOT the end of the world.

6. Know when to consider an unauthorized disclosure a breach of information.

A question we have been asked more than once….if you are provided a fax number that is incorrect either on a piece of letterhead or hand written by a patient for example, and you distribute PHI to that number, is it considered an unauthorized disclosure?  You did not mix up the numbers, or make a legibility mistake, but rather the information provided to you was wrong.  Are you obligated to log this as a breach at HHS.gov or is it not a breach?  There are two thoughts on this, both of which lend some merit.

  • It did go to an unintended recipient.
  • However, it was not an unauthorized recipient.

We contend that this is not a breach as the presented information was used to distribute the records.  Just because that information was not accurate not does hold you the covered entity liable to document this as a breach.

We hope this has helped shed some light on a confusing topic. As always, please consult with your own legal counsel on any of the information presented above. The information presented is not legal advice, but simply a conversation of experience.

If you have a specific HIPAA-related release of information question not addressed here, contact the experts at DataFile, and you may see the answer featured on our blog! Don’t forget to check out our other release of information resources and electronic release of information services on our website.